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Warriors missing out on English player cash
6:12am Thursday 20th February 2014 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
WORCESTER Warriors are missing out on at least £500,000 of funding because they don't have enough English players, according to director of rugby Dean Ryan.
The RFU and Premier Rugby offer six-figure cash incentives for teams who include English Qualified Players (EQP) in their match-day 23-man squad.
They measure the criteria differently with the RFU requiring at least 15 relevant players, while Premier Rugby demand 60 per cent of the squad to qualify.
But Warriors currently have the lowest number of homegrown players involved of any Aviva Premiership team, meaning they miss out on vital finances.
However, Ryan insists the Sixways club are working hard to address the situation, citing the acquisitions for next season of Sam Smith, Ryan Mills, Matt Cox and Ryan Lamb.
"Our stats are not great. At the moment we're not in the qualifying criteria," the Worcester boss said.
"There are two pots of money, one from Premier Rugby and one from the RFU, they're slightly different in match-day percentages and taken over different timings but we're not currently fulfilling the criteria.
"They access £250,000 each if you hit them over a season so you're talking potentially around half-a-million pounds. That, as any business, is a significant hit and we're the lowest in the league.
"It's not debilitating because shareholders are having to pick up that slack but it's not great business sense to not have it as part of your strategy going forward.
"We're not necessarily going to solve it all in a year either but we've got to build some momentum towards it, otherwise the business doesn't function.
"The business has to function at the same time as trying to grow as well. There's a balancing act and I think we've struck quite a good balance going forward."
The criteria only includes Premiership and Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures and, under RFU calculations, Warriors used an average of 12.87 EQP per game during the first-half of the campaign to December 28. Harlequins led the way with 20.6.
Worcester's average has increased to 13.4 since the turn of the year but they are still below the threshold.
Under Premier Rugby's requirements, Warriors are currently at an average of 57 per cent.
Premier Rugby offer £1.5million across the season and split it equally between clubs meeting the rules, but the RFU declined to reveal their amount.
Meanwhile, Ryan has explained his reasoning behind omitting new signing Lamb from the squad to face Northampton Saints last Saturday.
The fly-half joined from Leicester Tigers on a long-term contract last week but did not feature at Franklin's Gardens.
Ryan said: "He'd only been here four days. All it would have done is effectively compromise Ryan.
"He's here for the long-term and doesn't have the answer in his back pocket about saving our Premiership season. It's within all of us as a group."